It’s never to early to start making plans to see the Synchronous Fireflies (and the Blue Ghost Fireflies) that will light up the night sky in late May and early June 2017 in the Great Smoky Mountains. Firefly viewing in the Smokies has become such a popular event that there are now several venues available to enjoy the spectacular shows!
The Synchronous Firefly (Photinus carolinus) and the Blue Ghost Firefly (Phausis reticulata) are two species that are found only in the Southern Appalachian Mountains which include the Great Smokies. And during the short mating season in late May and early June, both firefly species put on quite a show to behold! The male Synchronous Fireflies flash their little green-yellow bioluminescent lanterns in unison for about 6-8 blinks and then they go dark for a few seconds creating a sublime wave of light throughout the forest. The male Blue Ghost Fireflies don’t flash their blue-white lanterns, instead they glow continuously just a few inches above the ground. The ethereal experience of either nighttime show should be on everyone’s bucket list! National Park scientists mostly use air and soil temperatures to predict the timing of each year’s mating season.
Synchronous Fireflies with Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN
One of the most popular places to view the Synchronous Fireflies is in Elkmont in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This event has become so popular that a free lottery system was instituted this year for the $1.50 parking passes for the eight-day shuttle period to Elkmont. During this time of peak viewing, Elkmont is closed at nighttime with the exception of shuttle users and campers in Elkmont Campground. Dates for the 2017 Lottery and Elkmont Shuttle will be announced sometime in April 2017. HeySmokies will keep you updated, so be sure to check back with us. We’ll provide you all the details of what you need to know to register for the lottery. For more information in the meantime, visit Recreation.gov.
Synchronous Fireflies with Discover Life in America in Gatlinburg, TN
For a few nights during peak firefly viewing time, Discover Life in America hosts a fundraising event featuring nightly presentations and field walks at the Norton Creek Sanctuary near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Tickets for the event are $100 each and the event is geared toward persons ages 10 and older. For reservations for this exclusive event, call Discover Life in America at 865-430-4757 or email email@example.com.
Synchronous Fireflies in Cataloochee with Cataloochee Valley Tours
Take a Synchronous Firefly Night Walk with Cataloochee Valley Tours out of Waynesville, NC. Small groups of guests are outfitted with safety vests and flashlights for a walk to the tour company’s secret viewing locations! They’ll announce 2017 dates in January. Tour tickets are $60 per person. Tours are from 8:30 – 11:30 p.m. weather permitting. For more information, visit Cataloochee Valley Tours.
Blue Ghost Fireflies in DuPont State Recreational Forest near Asheville, NC
DuPont State Forest is located in Cedar Mountain, NC about 30 miles outside of Asheville. Due to the popularity of this location in recent years, some of the trails in the High Falls parking area will be closed during peak viewing season. Because the female Blue Ghosts stay on the ground, many have been killed by visitors wandering off of the designated trails. For more information, visit DuPont State Forest.
Fireflies on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Overlooks along the Blue Ridge Parkway are a great place to view starry nights as well as the fireflies in June! Usually the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center in Asheville offers a family-friendly firefly viewing event. For more information, visit Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center.
Both firefly species are common in other areas of Southern Appalachia and just perhaps during the month of June, you stay outside until around 10:00 p.m. when it’s good and dark and you sit quietly, you may be surprised at the light show in your very own backyard!
HeySmokies left the crowds at Elkmont Campground and backpacked a bit further up Little River Trail to enjoy the show! Remember a permit is required for an overnight stay at a backcountry site. Happy Trails!